Chapter Two - Dear Prudence

Chapter Two - Dear Prudence

A Chapter by Nick Anthony

John is disturbed by a knock on the door. Prudence Farrow greets him and invites herself in. She has a proposition for John.

He didn't hear the knock at first. Deep in thought, lost in the moment of inspiration, John carried on jabbing away at chords on his guitar, trying to make a dovetail joint between the sections of song he'd already composed. The knocking persisted, quietly, so as to not wake the sleeping devotees but still with enough force to finally catch John's attention. He stopped playing, slipped on his wire framed glasses and walked to the door opening it to barely a crack.

In the half light he could just make out a young woman standing on the balcony, her hands pressed together as if in prayer, with a slight bow of her body she greeted John. "Namaste" she whispered, conscious of the late hour "Jai Guru Dev."

The curls of her black hair framed an elfin face, tiny nosed, thin lipped, her peaches and cream complexion almost glowing make up free, from it came the bright, intelligent gaze of two shimmering blue eyes darting around the scene quickly trying to read the situation. There was a long pause only broken by John's curt greeting.

"What do want?" he said abruptly.
"It's me Prudence" said the elfin face, adding somewhat unneccessarily "Mia and John's sister?"
"I know who it is" said John his patience wearing wafer thin "I asked you what you wanted."
"Well, can I come in first" she replied.

John swung back the door and returned to the bed, cradling his guitar in an attempt to convey to his visitor that now really wasn't a good time. Prudence slowly entered the room closing the door behind her as quietly as she could. John said nothing. He simply returned to fingering chord shapes and staring at the page of half finished words he had scribbled. Leaning against the closed door Prudence surveyed the room before her. The terracotta tiled floor was strewn with clothes, most of which spilled out from a still half packed suitcase. The room was dimly lit by a bedside lamp over which John had draped a red paisley patterned silk scarf. She could sense his aura immediately, this vista conveyed the impression of a feverish creative mind. As she scanned the room she noted the bedside table littered with empty cigarette boxes, the brimming full ashtray, sheets of loose paper, letters and cards across the unmade and incongruously large four-poster bed. Finally, her eyes rested on the reason for her being there. Cross legged in white linen, one of the most famous men in the world was pretending to be aloof and preoccupied. After what seemed like an eternity she broke the silence.

"I wanted to say thank you" she said smiling.
John didn't react, he continued oscillating chords F#m to E back and forth searching for something.
She continued "For the song I mean"
John paused "You came here at God knows what O'clock to tell me that?" he peered at her directly, at once questioning and daring her to respond.
"I'm always up this early" she replied "I heard you playing and I know your wife isn't here so I thought…"
"Are you coming on to me?" John interrupted.
"No, God no" said Prudence "I just thought, you know, maybe there was a reason why you came by."
"People were worried about you" he reached for a cigarette tapped it on the knuckle of his thumb then holding it between his lips, lit it with a zippo lighter. Drawing in deeply he tilted back his head and exhaled a thick brownish cloud of smoke towards the ceiling.
"It's what happens, people always want me to sort things out. Even in the group everyone wants me to speak first. I'm used to it"
John pushed the cigarette packet across the bed towards Prudence and returned to his jagged stabs on the acoustic F#m to E, F#m to E.
"Is that a new song?" asked Prudence, seemingly unaware that it was never going to be if she kept interrupting. John sighed.
"I don't know yet" he lied.
"Could I hear it?" she asked helping herself to one of John's cigarretes.
"It''s not finished" John snapped back.
"Suit yourself, that's not why I'm here anyway" said Prudence bluntly, she wasn't about to be intimidated by a Beatle.

She'd been around famous people her whole life and she knew that she had to sieze every opportunity presented to her. She'd been a devotee of transcendental meditation for the past two years and this pilgrimage to the Maharishi's Ashram with her sister and brother was intended to be the culmination of her journey to become a Yogi and teach meditation in her own school. She had become so focussed on perfecting her meditation technique that her absence at lectures and at gatherings was noticed by her fellow students. Eventually, John had been asked to go and talk to her. John and George had been designated "meditation buddies" with Prudence since they were considered the most promising students. However, neither John nor George had seen anything of the elusive Miss Farrow since the end of February.

Never as assertive as his peers expected him to be John decided to write a song. Utilising the clawhammer fingerstyle technique taught to him by new friend Donovan Leitch, John moulded an experiment he'd worked on with a dropped D tuning into a new song for this enigmatic young woman. "Dear Prudence" he sang "won't you come out to play" the song was at once enchanting and yet slightly unsettling with its dark gothic chord sequence. When John had invited himself into her room with George to play it, Prudence had been overwhelmed, unsure how to react. But, now she felt she understood why John had reached out to her, of all people.

"Have you heard of the Maharishi effect?"
"What, like the effect he has on your sister?" John responded sarcastically.
"No No, its the effect that groups of people meditating together can have on the rest of their society."
"I know, I know it was only a joke" said John unsure of where this was leading
"What did you mean about my sister?" puzzled Prudence
"Nothing" he said "carry on!"
"Maharishi says that the square root of 1% of a population can have a beneficial impact on everyone"
John just stared back, waiting for her to continue and not able to follow the maths.
"There are 400 people on this campus John and the square root of 1% of 400 is 2."
Again, there was silence from John.
"Don't you see it? That's us! It only takes a group of two to change everything. Don't you want to make your life and everyone elses better?"

The idea of being able to affect the natural world with this new power did appeal to John. He'd been puzzling about his role in the world and why he'd been chosen to be such a public figure if it wasn't for good. He'd told Maureen Cleave in that unfortunate "more popular than Jesus" interview that he saw a higher purpose for himself. "Whatever I'm meant to be doing, this isn't it" he had told her. However he was puzzled by Prudence suddenly deciding he was the man she wanted to do this with.

"Hold on, why me? I mean, you know, George is much better at this than me"
"Because, you came to me and sang me that song? I think you are trying to connect with me"
"It was just a song"
"No it was more than that. You chose me, out of all the people here to sing to. There's a deeper meaning to that than maybe we understand"

Aside from the practical purpose of getting Prudence out of her room, John did wonder himself why he'd chosen to write a song rather than just talk to her. Something about the poetry of her name perhaps or maybe the fact that she was a pretty brunette in a place full of "school teacher types" as John put it. John was a believer in the magic of inspiration, of there being a deeper level to creative moments that he didn't dare to question. Maybe some unknown force had caused him to approach this charismatic young woman. At this moment he was willing to accept that as an explanation if Prudence believed it.

Prudence reached into the white haversack she was wearing from shoulder to hip. From inside she pulled out a handfull of tealight candles and incense sticks. John watched and put down his guitar realising that the moment of inspiration had passed for now. Without speaking, Prudence placed two incense sticks across the brimming ashtray and lit them with John's Zippo. She placed tea lights randomly across both bedside tables and lit those. Turning out the bedside lamp her silhouetted form beckoned John to the centre of the huge mattress.

"I want to try it now" said Prudence. John found her self confidence and assertiveness beguiling. He shuffled across to the centre of the bed and under her guidance sat in the lotus position facing her.

"Let's start by breathing slowly in through the nose and then exhaling through the mouth" she spoke in a calm and reassuring tone. "As you breathe out just let your eyes gently close" John let the lids of his eyes become heavy and slide shut. "Focus on the weight of your body on the bed, feel each point of contact and concentrate on each one" Prudence also felt herself becoming heavier, sinking into the mattress. "Now…" she paused "allow the mantra to enter your mind, replacing your thoughts". John had gone through this process many times over the last few months but something about Prudence guiding him made him slip into a meditative state quicker than ever before.

Their minds were emptying of thoughts, being over taken by the cyclic mantra, looping its way around their consciousnesses. John began to feel something completely new. Through Prudence's deep breathing he could feel the rhythm of her own mantra weaving its way around his own. He could feel each breath she took entering his own lungs. She seemed to be radiating body heat that felt like bright sunlight on his face. His eyes still closed, John could somehow feel her skin, warm and smooth under soft cotton, the subtle baby soap scent of her flesh filled his nostrils. John was beginning to feel as if he was experiencing his surroundings from her perspective not his own, as if they had merged into one person.

His heart now pounding in his chest (or was it hers?) John started to hear strange sounds, he could hear a crackling fire so vividly that he could smell the sweet vanilla aroma of the charred wood. Picturing the fire and staring into the flames he began hallucinating. On a sandy beach by an open fire, surrounded by faceless ashram pilgrims he could make out the silhouette of Prudence walking towards another figure. She reached out a hand to this woman and stepping forward into the light he could see it was his mother Julia, sea shells lidding her eyes, hair billowing behind her, long and dark red. She smiled at him beckoning him to follow her but the crowd of devotees blocked his path, their blank faces muttering ominous but pointless phrases.
"Personality Complex"
"Onion Soup"
"Economically viable"
"Industrial output"
"Financial imbalance"'
Beside him laughing as he tried to push past the crowd were Donovan and George, both strumming guitars and singing a nightmarish version of Sam Cooke's "Twisting the Night Away." Focussing only on the fade out they repeatedly sang "Watusi! Now Fly! Now Twist!" over and over.

Breaking free of the crowd John and his crazed entourage finally caught up with the two women, Prudence smiled and he felt her once again becoming one with his body. He looked to Julia, her now black hair framing her face in two thick curtains, her angular features softening into a broad flat asiatic profile with an inscrutable Mona Lisa smile. Then, once again the crowd enveloped John and she was lost in the babble of a million voices.

As the bright sunlight streamed through John's window the two bodies on the bed stirred into movement. They didn't know how long they'd been asleep or when they'd fallen asleep, but there they were, Prudence with her head on John's chest, John with his arm draped over her waist.

Prudence looked up at John, a little embarrassed. Lifting his arm from her and sitting up she asked "What time is it?" John looked over at his watch on the bedside table and squinted "It's half-past seven" he said. "I should go" said Prudence feeling unsure if anything else had happened between them. John grabbed her arm and pulled her back down towards him. "You don't have to" he whispered. There eyes met, there was a bond between them now that was unique. Prudence knew it, but also knew that it was wrong to assume this connection was anything more than spiritual. John put his hand behind her head and tried to pull her down to kiss her. Prudence, pulled away swiftly. Removing his grip from her head and arm, she slid to the edge of the bed, put on her sandals, then checked herself in the mirror before preparing to leave.

"I'll come back tonight if you want" she said as she opened the door. John nodded and Prudence turned and walked out into the perfumed gardens of the campus.

© 2019 Nick Anthony

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Added on March 18, 2019
Last Updated on March 18, 2019
Tags: Beatles, John, Lennon, Yoko, Ono, Prudence, Dear, Revolution, Cynthia, Meditation, india, rishikesh, McCartney, Starr, Harrison


Nick Anthony
Nick Anthony

chelmsford, Essex, United Kingdom

50 something now. Singleton, Father of 3. Musician and Beatle fanatic more..

Prologue Prologue

A Chapter by Nick Anthony